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NMSU Onion Conference Slated for March 3

LAS CRUCES - Improved marketing of the state's burgeoning onion crop, along with updates on new varieties, disease control and weed management will be the focus of this year's New Mexico Onion Conference March 3 at the Hilton Las Cruces.



Stephanie Walker, vegetable specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, examines one of the new onion varieties being tested. New onion breeding research, along with improved marketing and disease control, will be featured at this year's New Mexico Onion Conference March 3 at the Hilton Las Cruces. (01/07/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"Some of the biggest concerns facing the state's onion growers are marketing issues, particularly awareness of the high quality of our onions," said Stephanie Walker, vegetable specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "Too often, the rest of the country isn't aware of the quality of the crop we produce, especially sweet onions. In June and July, New Mexico supplies about 60 percent of the nation's fresh onions."

Sponsored by NMSU, Lockhart Seeds and the New Mexico Dry Onion Commission, the conference brings together more than 100 onion industry growers, processors and scientists to the gathering which is held every two years. Registration for the conference is $35 prior to Feb. 20. After that, it's $50.

"This is one of the region's top onion conferences," said John White, Doņa Ana County Extension horticulture agent.

The program, which begins at 8:15 a.m., kicks off with a welcome from associate dean Paul Gutierrez, new head of the state's Extension Service. One of the program highlights will be a discussion of national marketing and promotion efforts by Tanya Fell, industry relations director with the National Onion Association.

Chris Cramer, an onion breeder with NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station, will review the university's current breeding program. Last year, NMSU scientists found a way to fill an early summer harvesting void with a new white onion variety, 'NuMex Solano', that will hit the fresh market while others are still in the ground. They also released a red onion, 'NuMex Crimson', a first for NMSU.

New Mexico onion growers planted 7,700 acres with a value of more than $50 million, according to the New Mexico Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soum Sanogo, an NMSU plant pathologist, will talk on disease problems, while Mark Renz, an NMSU Extension weed specialist, will discuss onion weed control options.

Mike Bartolo, a vegetable crop specialist with Colorado State University, will review salinity management in onion production, while Joanie Quinn, assistant director of the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, will discuss organic onion requirements. Other talks
will address insect problems, farmers markets, advertising and marketing, and onion bulb firmness testing.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Walker at (505) 646-5280 or swalker@nmsu.edu before the event.